How to Get Started with House-Sitting

house-sitting

This is a guest post by Dani and Jess from Globetrttergirls

Our House-sitting journey all started back on a cold and dreary winter Sunday in London back in January of 2010.

I was clicking through the travel section in the Guardian, dreaming of sunnier climates. Dani was huddled up under a blanket drinking green tea when I let out a slow, surprised, hopeful

‘Reaaaaallly!’

 

What had started with a passing interest in an article titled “Make Yourself at Home with a Spot of House-sitting” got interesting very quickly when I read how, looking to escape Britain for the winter months, the journalist needed a quiet space to write, while her musician boyfriend needed a place to play his music.

They discovered a house-sitting opportunity caring for a bed and breakfast in Italy and as I read their story, it became clear that we could do the same thing.

Dani and I were both freelancing at the time, working from our living room.

Why couldn’t we be in another country, I thought.

Right there, the seed was planted and Dani signed us up for the house-sitting website mentioned in the article, Housecarers.com.

One month later, in February 2010, we decided to pack up our London apartment and take our work on the road, and though we do not house-sit exclusively while we travel, we had our first one lined up as the plane touched down in the US from London.

We would be staying in a Hollywood apartment, owned by a fellow travel contact I knew (but not well), caring for her seven rescue cats while she spent a week in New York on business. We new we had to seize the opportunity to live, rent free, in a gorgeous L.A. neighborhood.

That first one worked out quite serendipitously, as I had just mentioned we would be in LA in an email and she asked us to house-sit.

However, the next one came after sending off quite a few applications on Housecarers.

We had been planning a road trip up through California and then across the Southwestern U.S. and applied to all ads in our path that summer. We were accepted for one in Tucson, Arizona and spent a month there caring for a fantastic dog.

house-sitting
Having fun exploring Arizona during our Tucson house-sit

Almost three years later, Dani and I have had 12 house-sits across four continents, including our own experience house and cat sitting at our own romantic Bed and Breakfast in Tuscany in 2011, just like that dream housesit mentioned in the Guardian article.

It felt like everything had come full circle from the first time we had heard about house-sitting on that cold London morning.

House-sitting is a perfect option for anyone interested in long term travel, but can also work well for travelers looking to just spend a week or two away.

You live rent free in exchange for keeping someone’s home and pets safe, but more importantly, house-sitting allows you to have authentic travel experiences in ways that more traditional accommodation such as hotels and hostels just can’t provide.

Although more and more people start housesitting every year, the movement itself is still rather underground.

But this is such an amazing way to see the world, save money and have the kind of real, authentic travel experiences that so many of us are looking for.

house-sitting
Dani and Jess house-sitting in Italy

Getting Started House-sitting

If house-sitting sounds like it is right up your alley, signing up to a couple of housesitting websites is easy enough for anyone.

Just because you pay the membership fee (usually around $50 or less per year), doesn’t mean you are guaranteed a housesit.

Things that hold some people back from being successful with house-sitting are:

  • lack of experience
  • poorly written applications
  • and applying too late

Our advice is to start by telling friends and relatives of your interest in housesitting.

Agreeing to care for your aunt’s house, or dog-sit for a friend of a friend while they go away for the weekend is not only a great way to lock down a credible housesitting / pet-sitting references, but also to find out if it is even for you in the first place.

Sticking within your own circle of personal contacts might be something you have success with, but looking for housesits online opens up the possibility of housesitting in another city or even another country, possibly on the other side of the world.

Where to Find Housesits Online

You can use Facebook to spread the word about your desire to housesit, and sites like Craigslist have loads of opportunities, too.

However, Craigslist is not popular in every country, which does limit your options and building trust through a site that isn’t dedicated to housesitting is a bit more of a risk than we personally
like to take when agreeing to live in someone’s home and be responsible for their house and pets.

We have found plenty of success across several of the over 20 dedicated housesitting websites and can highly recommend signing up and creating a profile on at least a few different sites, in order to catch more opportunities that might fit your schedule and your desired travel destinations.

house-sitting
A traditional Bavarian house in the German Alps where we housesat for a month.

We put together a detailed overview of all housesitting websites and their costs on Ultimatehousesittingguide.com, divided by region, but for the purpose of getting started, there are three popular global websites.

Housecarers.com

Housecarers.com is one of the original sites connecting homeowners to housesitters, and has the most variety and the most global reach. Housecarers is probably the best site out there for the more exotic, remote locations and also for anyone looking to housesit in Australia.

TrustedHousesitters.com

The fastest growing housesitting community is TrustedHousesitters.com, which was founded only a couple of years ago by two Brits who are avid housesitters themselves.

Although the site is currently strongest for sits in Britain and Europe,homeowners from around the world are starting to sign up to this site in droves and the company is looking to make a push toward growing the movement in South America in the coming year, and we actually found our current housesit – looking after two adorable Scottie dogs for seven weeks in a luxurious condo inSantiago de Chile – on TrustedHousesitters.

MindMyHouse.com

MindMyHouse.com rounds out our top three most popular housesitting websites. This is an easy to use site with homeowners around the globe advertising their homes here, and we have successfully scored housesitting gigs in Germany, Malaysia and Italy on this site.

There are loads of housesits in Europe, but also great opportunities in the rest of the world, in places like Costa Rica, Canada or Argentina.

Before You Even Apply

Seeing a month long housesit in Fiji, or a summer in the French countryside might make you squeal with delight, but there are a few things to consider before you take the time to apply.

What is the weather like?

Is it hurricane or typhoon season where you would be living? Even if the weather is fine, is it low season?

Staying in a tourist destination like on a Costa Rican beach might seem like a dream, but if it is right in the middle of low season, there may not be many people around, even locals. Are you comfortable with many closed restaurants and quite a bit of solitude?

house-sitting
we had our own private beach for 2 months in Mexico

Next, consider visa regulations?

How long do you have on a tourist visa to that country? For Europeans / Australians / Kiwis traveling to the U.S. and Americans to any of those areas, a tourist visa is 90 days within any 180 day period, meaning you would not be able to accept a housesit longer than 3 months.

In Mexico tourists can get up to a six month tourist visa, and Central America and South East Asia have easy options for border runs, meaning you can leave the country and return the next day on a brand new visa. Check this out online to have a rough idea before you apply.

Check out the cost of airfare or transportation during the month of the housesit.

Flights to Fiji might be affordable if you will be coming from Australia or New Zealand, but if you live in Denver and would be traveling in high season, does paying the price of the plane ticket make economical sense in return for the housesit?

Apply strong, Apply early

After you sign up and create a profile, you will need to keep tabs on new housesitting opportunities in order to be one of the first to apply.

Select which regions or countries you would like to housesit in and opt to get email alerts to
be notified when a homeowner creates an ad for those regions.

Homeowners receive anywhere from five to over 100 applications depending on the location of
the sit and the level of responsibility involved, so the earlier you apply, the more chance you have to make a lasting impression and preferably be chosen to do the housesit.

Even if you have previous housesitting experience, there are still always more available housesitters than housesits, which means you might have to apply for several housesits before being chosen for one that works for both you and the homeowners.

House-sitting
One of the amazing sunsets we had every day during our six-week housesit in Canada

This Is Not About You

You can find out everything you would ever need to know about housesitting in our book, Break Free: The Ultimate Guide to Housesitting (available for Kindle on Amazon.com now) but if there were one tip to give you to help you be chosen, it is this:

your application, even your profile, should not be about you.

When you apply for a housesit, make sure to read that homeowner’s advert carefully and then address how your experience and skills matches the needs and responsibilities for a housesit.

Of course you will be providing personal information, homeowners need to be sure that they can trust their house and their pets – essentially their entire life – with you while they are gone.

Showing them why you are a good fit for their needs is going to put you one giant leap ahead of the competition.

Get Personal

Having experience is not necessarily what makes you get chosen.

Unlike job applications, house-sitting is extremely personal. Homeowners are likely to go more with their gut feeling about an application, so making a personal connection using information from their advert really helps.

In our post Dream housesits around the world, we highlighted two first-time housesitters who were able to score dream housesits in Thailand and in Costa Rica right out of the gate.

If you have a family, don’t be discouraged. Housesitting with your family is also possible! In that very same post, we feature two families who landed exciting housesits in Morocco and on a tropical island in Malaysia.

About the Authors

Dani and Jess are a German-American couple who left their adopted home of London and set off to travel the world in 2010. With the motto ‘Two Girls. One Globe. No Regrets’ they have since traveled through Europe, South East Asia, and the Americas while running their travel website GlobetrotterGirls.com. The girls are digital nomads, street food junkies, LGBT travelers, hotel enthusiasts, street art lovers, vegetarians, avid housesitters and can easily be reached on Facebook and Twitter.

Do you have dreams of House-sitting?

Craig
Craig Makepeace is the founder of yTravel Blog and has been traveling the world since 2002, first with his wife Caz, and now with his two daughters. Get his free email series on the 4 best ways to reduce travel costs. Follow him on Google+

17 Comments on “How to Get Started with House-Sitting”

  1. Hey Dani and Jess! Awesome starter guide on house sitting – I’m now scheming where to start. Congrats on publishing Break Free for sale on Amazon too. Hope to bump into you girls again soon :)

    Reply
  2. Oh my, oh my. Very informative post on housesitting! I have to try this out on day. Let me know if you need a trusted sitter for your home in Australia. :P

    Reply
  3. [...] How to Get Started with House-Sitting for in depth information about house-sitting around the [...]

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  4. [...] Read How to Get Started with House-Sitting [...]

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  5. They give such great tips! I’ll definitely be following their advice in the coming months looking for housesitting opportunities! :)
    Bessie recently posted..Can We Make the US Home & Still Live Like Travelers? How is it Being Home – Part 2
    Bessie recently posted..Can We Make the US Home & Still Live Like Travelers? How is it Being Home – Part 2

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  6. Your website and your adventures are amazing! You are 2 lucky women that get to experience so much.

    I have a pet sitting business and I know that I can offer peace of mind to my clients as it is a stressful time leaving a pet, and I am sure your clients feel the same. To have your home and possibly your pets looked after by reputable, trustworthy people would definitely take the stress out of the minds of those leaving.

    Have fun on your next adventure!

    Treanne
    Treanne Kidd recently posted..Removing Skunk Smell From Pets – A Home Remedy
    Treanne Kidd recently posted..Removing Skunk Smell From Pets – A Home Remedy

    Reply
  7. Love your blog. My husband and I are in our fifties and retiring. We are going to do this. Will be ordering your book soon.
    Thanks girls for the great info!
    Ollie & Rick recently posted..Moving from Opium Destitution to Thriving Sustainability – An Inspiring Royal Project
    Ollie & Rick recently posted..Moving from Opium Destitution to Thriving Sustainability – An Inspiring Royal Project

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  8. […] From the e-mail alerts I’d say there is a couple of new house sits per week for Perth and they can range from a few days up to months, some as long as six months. I’d recommend getting on the website asap before you hit a big city. Some house owners are looking for house sits months and even a year in advance. For house sitting tips check out this excellent guest blog post by Dani and Jess on ytravelblog. […]

    Reply
  9. […] exchange for a little bit of work like cleaning the pool or feeding and walking dogs. Check out the YTravelBlog for more information about […]

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  10. Nicole Schandorff

    Hi Guys!

    Love your blog!
    I have found a lot of inspiration on how to travel. And a lot of cheaper ways to travel.
    Especially your working holiday tips! I’m actually going to do this next year – probably in Australia, because of this great blog :)

    But I’m also thinking that it could be nice to go and be a housesitter with a friend of mine. But my question is if you think it is a possibility for 2 girls at a age of 19, responsible, animal loving and non-parting girls. If we have a possibility for finding a house that trust us to take care of their house?

    No doubt that we can handle the responsibility, but how can we get the house owner to think that?
    Looking forward to hear from you :)
    Hugs from Denmark – Nicole

    Reply
    • I think so Nicole! I think if you present who you truly are in your application, you should be fine. You sound like a great fit to me and I would let you housesit.. if I had a house :)

      Reply
  11. […] less expensive by staying in less expensive places. You can also offset costs by doing things like house-sitting or volunteering. You can travel slowly and rent apartments for a fraction of the cost than your […]

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  12. […] Craig Makepiece from Y Travel Blog are experts in this field and have written an article on “How to get started with house-sitting.”  Dalene and Peter Heck from Hecktic Travels had “12 jobs in 8 countries, and saved […]

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  13. What an idea! How exciting. I don’t think I can talk my husband into this one.
    Lisa @ Xpedition Girl recently posted..Pocono Weekend Away
    Lisa @ Xpedition Girl recently posted..Pocono Weekend Away

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  14. Sandra Alba Firaben

    My husband and I have house-sat before but only for friends and family. We really enjoyed it! We are in our fifties, retired and we love to travel, so this sounds like a great idea! We can’t wait to sign up and create our profile!

    Reply
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